If your memories of BBs feature nylon sheets and drab food, then it could be time for a rethink.
Alanna Gallagher of The Irish Times asked half a dozen well-known bon vivants where they like to get away to and what makes the destination so special for them
Marian Keyes, Novelist
The writer loves Moy House, which sits above Cregg Beach in Co Clare,
overlooking the wild Atlantic Ocean. The old summer home of landlord
Sir Augustine Fitzgerald has been renovated sympathetically.
small - there are only nine rooms - but classically restored. The decor
throughout is very grown-up. The bathrooms are quite traditional, with
big Victorian-style claw-foot baths and enormous Villeroy Boch sinks.
The finish throughout is to a really high standard. The rooms are
small, but each is different, and there's a lovely sitting room with
squishy couches and an honesty bar.
"They do evening meals, but
for residents only, which can leave you feeling a little sore if you're
in Lahinch and dying to be let in. It's a great place to hole up for a
winter weekend. The wind can be howling around the house, but you'll
feel warm and cosy inside. It feels very romantic to be cosied up on
the couch with the wind whistling around the building."
house is architecturally fascinating, according to Keyes. "There's a
quirky watchtower to explore, and in the dining room there's a wall of
glass looking out to sea. Every detail is beautiful. It's the perfect
• Moy House, Lahinch, Co Clare, 065-7082800, www.moyhouse.com. €112.50-€180 per person sharing
• Marian Keyes's latest novel,
This Charming Man , is published by Michael Joseph
Robert Doggett, restaunteur
Doggett, who has been maitre d' of the Trocadero, in Dublin, for more
years than he cares to remember, is one of the most hospitable hosts in
the capital. For him Kilgraney Country House Herb Garden, near
Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, ticks all the hospitality boxes.
have many's the time hopped into the car and headed to Kilgraney House.
It's a stunning place to stay, with a choice of six very unusual and
unique bedrooms. Once settled in, a walk along the River Barrow really
clears the head. Back at the house, stroll through the amazingly
fragrant herb garden, which includes a medicinal herb courtyard and a
medieval monastic herb garden."
The herb garden, says Doggett,
is a perfect prelude to a massage: it leads to the aromatherapy massage
rooms, which are in a restored apple store. "The de-stress mind massage
is perfect after a hectic week at the restaurant. After a pleasant
session I like to read a good book in the drawing room."
are two dining options, says Doggett, but it is the breakfast that
owners Martin Marley and Bryan Leech serve that is most memorable,
particularly the orange raisin pancakes and baked eggs with spinach.
• Kilgraney House, near Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, 059-9775283, www.kilgraneyhouse.com. €65-€120pps
• Robert Doggett is maitre d of Trocadero (St Andrew Street, Dublin 2, 01-6775545, www.trocadero.ie)
Brendan Courtney, television presenter
House, in Co Wexford, is not your everyday BB, but for a cheeky weekend
away it's hard to beat, according to the television presenter.
rooms come with sumptuous bedding and Frette linen, deep-pile carpets
and dramatic canopies over the beds. Some rooms also have open fires,
an essential ingredient for winter romance," he says.
House built its reputation on its food, which is modern Irish in style
and features fresh herbs, vegetables and fruit, wild salmon, spring
lamb, Bannow Bay oysters, Wexford mussels and beef.
"There is abundant use of rich butter and cream sauces, so I came home about a stone heavier than I had been."
Courtney visited, Marlfield House was run by a mother-and-daughter
combination of Mary and Margaret Bowe, but Mary has retired, and now
the house is run by Margaret and her sister, Laura.
there with my ex Les. We arrived in a dodgy white van, which we had to
park on a hill and have the owners help us push-start, as the ignition
was broken. It wouldn't have been their usual style of help request,
but they obliged anyhow and got us on the road in no time."
• Marlfield House, Gorey, Co Wexford, 053-9421124, www.marlfieldhouse.com. €105- €382.50pps
• Brendan Courtney presents
Off the Rails on RTÉ1
Dermot O'Neill gardener
and good-food fan Dermot O'Neill loves Danny Minnie's in the wilds of
the west Donegal Gaeltacht, in the village of Annagry.
has eight or nine rooms, each decorated in a country style, but every
room retains its own character. It's small and the only place I know
where you get your porridge served with Drambuie on it in the morning,"
says O'Neill. "The rooms also have homely touches, like magazines and
books in them. Best of all is the food."
The restaurant is
renowned in its part of the world. It's only open at the weekends in
the winter. At €65 per person sharing it's great value for money and
ideal if you want to block-book it for a family occasion, according to
Annagry is good base if you want to explore Glenveagh
Castle, Errigal Mountain and the late Derek Hill's home and art
Danny Minnie's is a good four-hour drive from
Dublin. Weekenders might consider flying with Aer Arann. The guest
house is a five-minute drive from the airport, and Danny Minnie's will
• Danny Minnie's, Annagry, Co Donegal, 074-9548201 or 074- 9548809, www.dannyminnies.com. From €65pps
• Dermot O'Neill is a gardener and broadcaster
chef says that Inis Meáin Restaurant Suites, on the middle of the three
Aran Islands, off Galway, is a perfect spot for a romantic weekend
break. Cooke heads west every September.
"Each suite offers
uninterrupted views of the island. I love the fact that there are no
televisions, allowing you to completely relax and get away from it all.
The rooms are spacious, with a living area and outside sitting area. A
breakfast tray is delivered to the room each morning, adding to the
The restaurant has similar panoramic views of
the island and the bay, and its speciality is locally caught lobster
and crab, served with produce grown on the island using seaweed as
fertiliser, which gives the potatoes in particular a distinctive and
floury taste, says Cooke.
"This is my idea of fantastic eating, spanking fresh seafood off the currachs, simply cooked and unadulterated."
Ruairí de Blacam and his wife, Marie-Thérèse, who run the BB, are
fantastic hosts and a mine of information on local culture and scenic
"Whilst the island is well serviced by hopper planes and
ferries from Galway, my real indulgence is catching a ride with a
friend in his four-seater plane," says Cooke.
• Inis Meáin Restaurant Suites, Inis Meáin, Co Galway, 086- 8266026, www.inismeain.com. €100pps
• Johnnie Cooke owns Cookes Event Catering (www.cookesrestaurant.com)
Richard Corrigan, Chef
Chef Richard Corrigan likes a good breakfast. Hotels just can't get it right, he says.
result is too impersonal. Breakfast has to be cooked by the owner of
the establishment. A bed and breakfast has to be more than about the
Shelburne Lodge, in Kenmare, Co Kerry, is more than the sum of its parts, he says.
last time I stayed there the owner, Maura Foley, cooked me wild salmon,
seared lightly and served with a lemon butter sauce for my breakfast.
It was the finest start to the day I've ever had. The full Irish
features high-quality bacon, beautiful sausages, fresh breads,
traditional Irish cheeses and good leaf teas as well as fresh fish."
Maura Foley, one of the region's food heroes, has been cooking since 1961.
old stone house is set on the edge of the town, well back from the road
in its own grounds. It has nine rooms, each with a mix of antiques and
The gardens include a herb garden, and the
location means you can walk into town for a pint. Kenmare has some
terrific pubs. Crowley's is an old-school establishment with no
organised sessions, but musicians tend to turn up and play.
• Shelburne Lodge, Cork Road, Kenmare, Co Kerry, 064-41013, www.shelburnelodge.com. €50-€80pps.
Richard Corrigan recently opened Bentley's Oyster Bar Grill (22 St
Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, 01-6383939, www.bentleysdublin.com)